Low landfill price was ‘missed opportunity’

Government's failure to raise the price of landfill and make it a less attractive option for dealing with rubbish has been one of the major missed opportunities of the past ten years.

That is the opinion of Peter Jones, former director of Biffa Waste Services and the London Mayor’s newly-appointed representative on the London Waste and Recycling Board.

Speaking at the RWM 08 conference, in Birmingham, on Tuesday, Mr Jones said there were several major reasons why opportunities had been missed in the waste industry, one of which was time.

He said that voices in the waste sector began warning Government ten years ago that landfill prices should be raised.

“The really big issue that has slowed this whole thing down was the Treasury’s reluctance to give Defra and others their credit and recognise that as long as we had a cheap exit strategy through landfill, we would not reduce waste,” he said.

Too much emphasis had also been placed on definitions of waste and worrying about where it had come from, Mr Jones said.

He warned that the UK is now lagging behind in the race to develop new technology and infrastructure to deal with waste.

“I would counsel everybody to spend at least of couple of hours on a big landfill site and really understand this issue of tonnage,” he said.

“You are not going to solve that sheer tonnage with the odd MRF and the odd compost facility.”

Mr Jones has also opened the conference with a discussion of his role on the London Waste and Recycling Board, which met for the first time this month.

He said the waste challenge facing the capital was tough, but the board realised that they had to start thinking differently about waste.

He told edie: “There’s this believe that we have got to recognise that there’s an integration of domestic or household and commercial and industrial streams and that waste is waste is waste.”

Kate Martin

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